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Sustainable Tax Governance and Transparency

  • Hans GribnauEmail author
  • Ave-Geidi Jallai
Chapter

Abstract

The relationship between tax and sustainability is not an easy one. Separately, both topics are in general well understood and given due attention in most corporations. Nevertheless, tax specialists do not readily combine those two topics with regard to public tax governance, let alone the tax governance of corporations. One thing that is troubling the relationship between tax and sustainability is transparency. For tax experts, at first sight, tax and sustainability meet in environmental taxation. On further reflection, the requirement of sustainability can be applied to tax legislation and the tax system as whole—which both demand good tax governance. However, the concept of good tax governance does also regard taxpayers. Taxation is a fundament for a well-functioning society and sustainable development. Therefore, it will be argued that paying corporate taxes can be seen as part of corporate responsibility to contribute the sustainable development of society. Corporate scandals and news on corporate aggressive tax planning practices have increased demands for corporate accountability. The question is whether corporations’ tax planning policies are really sustainable if they minimise the amount of tax they pay. This chapter will look into this question by exploring corporate taxation in the context of corporate social responsibility (CSR). It will be argued that without greater transparency it is impossible to evaluate whether corporations are truly sustainable, nor is it possible to hold corporations accountable for their tax behaviour. This chapter will deal with the calls for increased tax transparency. Public transparency with regard to corporate tax is in many countries a rather new phenomenon. It will be argued that corporate tax transparency is a key to good tax governance. Yet, it also entails various challenges. A first step is the question as to relationship between tax and sustainability; sustainable tax governance will first be dealt from a governmental perspective which requires the state to pay due attention to the quality of tax legislation. Following, it will be discussed how to relate multinational tax planning practices to sustainability. It will be analysed whether paying taxes could be seen as a company’s obligation towards society. Here, CSR is used as a proxy for sustainability. A notion of good tax governance as a response to demand of sustainable and responsible tax planning will be proposed. Furthermore, this chapter relates such good tax governance to transparency, which is considered as a necessary if challenging prerequisite for a sustainable tax planning.

Keywords

Good governance Sustainability Multinationals Corporate social responsibility Transparency 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Han Kogels for his valuable suggestions with regard to environmental taxation.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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